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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Renovation work on martyr's house hangs fire

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Ludhiana, March 23, 2014
First Published: 12:38 IST(23/3/2014) | Last Updated: 12:44 IST(23/3/2014)

Over six months after the Punjab and Haryana high court directed the state government to initiate renovation work on the ancestral house of martyr Sukhdev Thapar within four months, the state government is yet to even begin the project.

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As a result, the All India Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Memorial Trust, which was in the past taking care of the house, has demanded that the house be handed over to it, so that the property could be maintained properly.

Having being embroiled in legal tussle for over 20 months, the house, which is located at Naughara Mohalla near Chaura Bazaar in old city, has been lying neglected, leading to its poor condition. The trust was taking care of the house until January 2012 when it was taken over by the state government to convert it into a museum.

Thereafter, the trust moved the high court (HC) against the decision of the state government and the matter remained sub judice for over a year. It was only on May 31, 2013, that the house was re-opened on the directions of the HC for maintenance by the state's archaeology department.

Later, while disposing of the trust's writ petition on August 30, 2013, the HC had stated that the central government had sanctioned Rs. 3.24 crore for conservation and preservation of protected monuments, out of which `81 lakh were sanctioned for the house of Sukhdev Thapar.

The court had also directed the authorities, including the district administration and department of archaeology, that renovation work should be initiated within four months (December 31, 2013).

Archaeology department had placed a watchman at the house after the orders and also prepared a detailed project report for renovation work.

However, in violation of the HC directions, the government is yet to even begin the renovation work.

Sources said Rs. 34 lakh would be the cost for renovating the house which is built on 32 square yards and has two rooms.

Trust president Ashok Thapar said the deputy commissioner had conducted two meetings with the trust members, but nothing came out after that, adding that if the state government was not able to take care of the house, the trust could renovate it.

"Authorities are not able to renovate such a small area. The role of government, members of legislative assembly and member of Parliament, who otherwise cry foul over almost everything, also comes under scanner as they have not been able to take up the issue," said Tribhuvan Thapar, press secretary of the trust, adding that the trust would try to persuade area residents not to vote during parliamentary elections.

He added that teams of archaeology department visited the site twice, but the renovation work was yet to start.

There has also been a demand of a direct route for the house from Chaura Bazaar as the house is located in a maze of narrow lanes and therefore, is difficult to reach.

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